CEDAR FALLS — The answer was an emphatic “no.”
University of Northern Iowa head football coach Mark Farley is hopeful starting quarterback Eli Dunne will be cleared to play Saturday in the Panthers’ season-finale against Indiana State on Senior Day at the UNI-Dome.
Considering how well UNI’s defense has been playing and the rock-solid performance of Colton Howell in a relief role at Missouri State, Farley was asked if there was a scenario where he’d rest Dunne Saturday, even if he was healthy.
“There is no rest for anyone,” Farley said. “That word is not in my vocabulary. We’d better get this thing lined up. We cannot afford to even take a hesitant step if we are going to improve. We will take the same approach, if not a tougher approach, to get ready for this weekend’s football game.”
Dunne was hurt with 5 minutes, 1 second left in the first quarter when he scrambled away from a potential sack. As he dove forward, he was hit hard in the chest and Farley said it is an injury to the sternum that is bothering Dunne more than anything.
Farley said Dunne’s status is questionable.
If Dunne can’t go, it will be Howell, who completed 12 of 20 passes for 129 yards in the win over Missouri State. If Howell were to get hurt, Farley said it would be either senior Reggie Schulte or redshirt freshman Christian Ellsworth.
INJURY REPORT: Farley said the injury list he got was two pages Monday morning.
What was encouraging, however, is nobody who missed or was injured in the win over Missouri State has been ruled out against the Sycamores.
“I’d tell you if they were out and they are not out,” Farley said. “They are not in, but they are not out, either.”
The list is extensive, starting with Dunne and moving on to offensive linemen Bryce Sweeney, Cal Twait and Nick Ellis, tight end Elias Nissen, safety A.J. Allen and outside linebacker Keelon Brookins.
“I think we will get Twait back,” Farley said. “The other ones are questionable. Twait will practice today. The rest have moved into questionable, which is a plus.”
Farley is pleased that UNI has been able to operate the last two weeks despite the offensive line at times playing with just two of the five who started the Panthers’ first game at Iowa State.
“I’m pleased we can mix and match and still be productive,” he said.
SENIOR SENDOFF: Fifteen seniors will play their final regular-season game Saturday inside the UNI-Dome, led by senior captains Daurice Fountain, Jared Farley, Adam Reth and Preston Woods.
“It takes great leadership to go through what we went through,” Farley said. “I think that speaks for itself ... Daurice Fountain, Jared Farley, Adam Reth and Preston Woods ... Sam Kuhter is in that mix ... all the seniors. Elijah Campbell, the transfers, Keelon (Brookins) ... you see a lot of unselfishness. You see a lot of determination, and you see a lot of good football players.
“How the team has kind of did a 180 for us, and you need an internal force to do that, and that is where you credit your seniors.”
Other seniors are J’Veyon Browning, Lee Carhart, Rashadeem Gray, Xavier James, Tyrell Lyons, Reggie Schulte, Sweeney and Malcolm Washington.
Those seniors have helped UNI win 29 games, including 13 against ranked foes.